March Madness: First Weekend Recap
Shocking upsets, buzzer beaters, superstar showcases. The first weekend of March Madness delivered on the excitement. Only two No. 1 seeds survived to play in the second weekend.
The Purdue Boilermakers suffered a shocking loss to the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights in the first round of the tournament. The Knights were able to neutralize Big Ten player of the year Zach Edey and stifle the Purdue offense. But that may not even be the most surprising outcome of the weekend.
The No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks lost to the No. 8 Arkansas Razorbacks. Finishing the season at No. 4 in the AP Poll, many were expecting the Jayhawks to repeat as champions. Unfortunately, they ran into a gritty Arkansas team that features a fierce defensive unit and pairs it with a balanced scoring distribution, with five players averaging double digit points. Junior guard Davonte Davis led the way for the Razorbacks, scoring 25 points.
Over in the South region, the Tigers of Princeton are making a historical run into the Sweet 16 as a No. 15 seed. The Tigers knocked off No. 2 Arizona in the first round, then defeated No. 7 Missouri in the round of 32 with a comfortable 15-point win. The Arizona Wildcats averaged 81.9 points per game in the regular season, tied for sixth in the country. Princeton held them to 55 points.
The first two rounds supplied a number of classic games, but No. 13 Furman’s win over No. 4 Virginia stands out as the best game from the weekend. With just seconds left and trailing by two points, the Furman Paladins intercepted an errant pass at half court with enough time remaining to hoist up a prayer. JP Pegues drilled the game-winning three-pointer to give Virginia its third first-round loss in the last four tournament appearances.
No. 1 seeds Alabama and Houston have looked impressive through the first two rounds. Alabama executed a commanding win over No. 8 Maryland with a 22-point victory while holding the Terrapins to just 51 points.
In the Midwest region, the No. 1 Houston Cougars defeated the No. 9 Auburn Tigers in a 17-point victory. Guard Marcus Sasser had been dealing with a groin injury leading up the tournament, and had been ruled questionable to be in the lineup for the first two games. Sasser was able to fight through injury and produce 22 points for the Cougars.
Only one Big Ten team remains dancing in the Sweet 16. The Michigan State Spartans checked in as a seven-seed in the tournament, but survived and advanced after two very impressive wins. The Spartans defeated the USC Trojans in the round of 64, then beat No. 2 Marquette in a shocking upset. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is no stranger to March, with eight NCAA Final Four appearances with the Spartans.
The most impressive weekend performance may belong to the No .4 UConn Huskies out of the West region. UConn faced Rick Pitino’s Iona Gaels in the first round, and dominated in a 23-point victory. The Huskies then matched up against a strong No. 5 Saint Mary’s team, and cruised to a 15-point win.
Sketch Morton is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email Sam7539@psu.edu.
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